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  • Scentless Bathrooms?! Entirely Possible.

Scentless Bathrooms?! Entirely Possible.

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  • By admin
  • Date July 3rd, 2011 01:13
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  • If you've used a bathroom in China, you are familiar with a consistently funky and unpleasant smell that seeps from most toilets. When Swiss-based Geberit called our research team, promising to demystify this nagging problem, we were in disbelief. Impossible. Our doubt brought us to their Shanghai manufacturing facility to have a first hand look at the solutions they've developed over their 135+ year history.

    We walked into Geberit's facility and were greeted by a 3 story demonstration wall, chockfull of toilets, sinks, and containers to simulate bathtubs, showers, and roof drains (a systems engineer's personal heaven). We were impressed, but remained skeptical. Was the quest for scentless bathroom-ing really somewhere within this organized chaos of pipes and fixtures?

    Before we could find out, we first needed to identify where the origin of this funky smell originates from. When you flush a toilet, you hope everything is flushed to oblivion, never to be seen or smelled again. In truth, this rarely happens. Flow works based on slope, and pressure. In catastrophic cases (no pipe trap, no slope and zero pressure), pipes back up. What you flush, goes nowhere. In more normal cases, pipes may be installed without traps (looks like a bend in the pipe), which help prevent water from backing up. Without traps, you're almost guaranteed to get some back-up. Even with traps, water can back up. Why? Without proper pipe design (angles and geometries), flushing causes water to rush out faster than it can be removed, creating a kickback. This isn't as bad as a full on blockage or back-up, but undesirable black-water remains just below your bathroom floor. Unless you have a greywater reuse system built-in, your entire bathroom plumbing is linked. All drains connect to the same down pipe, meaning water from your toilet rushes past your floor and bath/shower drains. When small back-ups occur, pressure is reversed and water rushes in the opposite direction - back towards your toilet. Like most things, water takes the path of least resistance. As pressure builds, water gets pushed up towards your floor drains and that funky smells seeps into your bathroom.

    So, the answer to getting rid of the funky smell? Simple physics. Simply designing the right pipe angles and pipe diameters can flush even the worst bathroom smells. Angles and diameters combine to create a vacuum like phenomenon, literally sucking water down. Geberit also provides a piping solution to allow horizontal flows, still without the funky smell (simple physics are incredible). This is especially notable for interior fit outs with built-in down pipes in undesired locations. Designers are free move toilet locations rather freely. If this wasn't good enough, physics also allow pipes to be reduced both in size and quantity, saving material, transportation and labor costs, and building space. Physics also allows piping to work almost silently - no more waking up in the middle of the night when your neighbor showers or flushes the toilet.

    The only downside is that there are no silver bullets. Every bathroom can be funk free, but it needs to be designed right, all you need is a modest understanding of physics and good pipes. If you're like me, and you didn't do so well in physics, Geberit's technical team has you covered, and they're quite happy to help. Or, spend a day watching their demonstration wall and you'll walk away ready to take on the funk.
     

    Geberit's demonstration wall (Photo courtesy of Billy Hustace)

    Flushing demonstration. (Photo courtesy of Billy Hustace)

    Down-pipe cleaning demonstration. (Photo courtesy of Billy Hustace)

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